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Is it really so easy to make friends?

(41 Posts)
Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 12:54:25

I am feeling quite isolated at the moment for various reasons and have been trying for quite some time to extend my social circle a little. However I have found it really difficult and have found other people's reaction to my quest a bit disheartening.

People keep suggesting that I am not trying hard enough and that in fact it is really easy to make friends. I've been told to join groups, accept all invitations and be more 'open' to meeting others. But is it really that easy? I have done sme night classes and, although the people were nice, there was no suggestion that anyone there wanted to do more than just attend the class. I have registered on 'meet a mum' type sites but things never seem to get beyond a couple of emails. I started antenatal classes recently and, again, the people were lovely but seem to just want to be there for the information only.

I just don't get it.... Maybe I am dong something wrong but I can't seem to find this 'easy friend making' route that everyone tells me is possible and to be honest it's really getting me down. I think I am a nice person but just don't seem to get this friend thing....

Any thoughts anyone?

LimitedEditionLady Sun 21-Jul-13 13:04:13

I only seem to make friends at work.Tried play groups all the mums are older than me and dont seem to want to talk to me ( even though some of my friends are 40 so i dont see what the difference is)Kids just walk on up to each other and say hi and theyre instant friends,adults...difficult!

EBearhug Sun 21-Jul-13 13:46:26

No, it's not that easy, especially as you get older. Classes are great for learning, and some might do things like Christmas drinks, but they're exceptions, rather the key to a great social life.

People keep telling me to sign up with a local walking group. Actually, I have signed up, but the weekends I've been free to go, I've gone to the beach instead, because you can go walking when it's not good enough to swim in the sea.

And the thought of joining a group where they already know each other scares me.

LimitedEditionLady Sun 21-Jul-13 14:43:48

Have you noticed old people make friends easy too?everyones my nan friend!even me!

WaitingForMe Sun 21-Jul-13 14:57:45

No, I worked very hard to build up my friendship group (moved to totally new town to be with DH). Treated it like a numbers game and grew a thick skin.

Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 15:26:44

Hmmmm I just wonder what the solution is because there are times when I just feel really lonely...

Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 15:29:18

eBearhug - I know what you mean, most groups seem to be pretty tight to begin with and it's really hard to get included.

Sometimes it feels like I never left the difficulty of school as far as making friends are concerned! The cursed being shy sometimes I think...

nerofiend Sun 21-Jul-13 19:26:39

After quite a disheartening experience with a group of mums at my local baby group, I sort of lost the motivation, confidence and energy to "try to make" friends again.

My group of friendship has reduced considerably in the last five years or so and this has had a negative effect on my confidence.

You're not alone in the way you feel, OP. As we grow older, making solid friends and keeping them becomes, in my opinion, a lot harder than when we are younger.

LimitedEditionLady Sun 21-Jul-13 19:28:34

I had three friendship groups at school.Then a big group of friends as I got older but now i have friends but hardly see them as everyone is leading their own lives obviously as we get older.I dunno maybe join a sporty activity or something people do purely for fun rather than a course?

LimitedEditionLady Sun 21-Jul-13 19:29:41

You know what,i was always the persin who invited people into our friendship group!

Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 19:43:59

I've always been someone who tried to include others too. Seems now that things have really turned around, does make me reflect on previous friendship choices I've made though - particularly as most now require me to do most of the running.

In many ways I'm dreading my maternity leave because I am worried that this 'oh how come you haven't made lots of mum friends - it's easy' mentality will prevail.

This has been such a weird reflective day!

GiveItYourBestShot Sun 21-Jul-13 19:47:33

I don't think it's easy but I tell myself to keep trying. Different groups will have different vibes...I went to my local WI last week and they were incredibly welcoming! I don't really see myself as a WI type but it got me out of the house and there was brilliant cake and a sign-up sheet to visit a brewery grin so I am now reconsidering! As PP said, numbers game - some people might find friends everywhere but some people can do cartwheels...we all have different talents.

Mehrida Sun 21-Jul-13 19:56:21

It's really not that easy, well not for most folk anyway?

Do you enjoy sport at all? Most sports clubs have a ready made social life built in.

Or maybe you could bite the bullet and suggest something, eg a coffee after ante natal? Although, I founbd that I socialised much more with my ante natal class after the babies arrived and we had something in common.

Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 19:58:23

I will keep trying but just feel about disheartened today.

SurroundedByGiraffes Sun 21-Jul-13 19:59:16

I don't know if this is helpful or not, but when I moved here two years ago I didn't have any friends here and I was dreading it. I went to four or five different toddler groups and was in tears at one because it just felt like I wouldn't ever make friends. I also find it hard as I have face blindness to a certain extent so find it hard to recognise people I meet when I see them again (usually work it out by the age/ gender of the children they have with them!). But some of the ways I met people were:

Saw the lady who lived across from us at softplay about a month after moving, chatted about our move, learnt they had a similar move, went round for playdate, reciprocated, DS ended up at same nursery as their DD. Had quite a lot in common, got on well, so friendship has evolved into going out without kids, family BQs etc.

Through that couple met two other nice couples (first at children's parties, nursery drop off etc) with similar aged kids who we now see with and without kids, the men sometimes go to gigs and the women tend to meet up every so often for a meal.

Went to NCT coffee mornings, the lovely organiser introduced me to loads of people, some I have become friendly with, going on trips, dinner parties etc, others just to say hi. Also through that lovely lady I joined a book group which has also been brilliant for meeting people.

Now DS1 is at school I have become friends with some of the mums there, not loads but one or two, one is the very friendly mum of his best friend and one I met at a toddler arts group and we got on well.

I hope this doesn't sound boasty look at all my mates, I just wanted to show how it happened for me, if it is annoying just ignore.

cleoowen Sun 21-Jul-13 20:24:17

I have this trouble too and regularly question my choice of friends. I can sometimes make friends easily but seem to make friends with the wrong people. Thru let me down or move away and them I am back to square one! I get fed up with constantly going through a circle of,making friends, loosing them for one reason or another and then having to make more etc,etc.

It makes me nervous meeting new people because I just think the same thing will happen again. For instance the person I get on best with in my Nct group and have the most in common with,.lives around the corner etc just announced she's moving to America! Typical.

I am currently trying to make more friends through baby groups but find,it's just been little chats so far and one group is really cleeky.

However, I met up with an old friend the other day who has a great group of friends, she made as she got chatting to one girl who had the same blanket as her dd s, she introduced her to her group of friends and 3 years later they are the best of friends. I was like what, how come people find,it so easy.

Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 20:46:45

Cleo - I could have written the first bit of your post, we seem to have had quite similar experiences!

I try really hard to not let it get me down but sometimes it makes me wonder what's wrong with me?! I also feel that the longer it goes on the less confidence I have which just makes it more difficult.

And surrounded - no you're post does t so

Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 20:47:28

Cleo - I could have written the first bit of your post, we seem to have had quite similar experiences!

I try really hard to not let it get me down but sometimes it makes me wonder what's wrong with me?! I also feel that the longer it goes on the less confidence I have which just makes it more difficult.

And surrounded - no you're post doesn't sound boasty, it gives me a bit of hope maybe?

Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 20:48:07

Sorry - hit post button too soon, silly phone plus clumsy fingers. Grrr.

SkinnedAlive Sun 21-Jul-13 20:58:47

I find it hard to make friends here in the UK. Overseas is so much easier.As an ex-pat as there are so many groups to join and people to meet. I work 11 hour days for minimum wage at the moment and am too exhausted/have too little money to go out anyway. I have no face to face friends where I live. I am bullied at work and very lonely. If it wasn't for online friends I would have no one (though my cats are fantastic friends)

Tambaboy Sun 21-Jul-13 21:15:53

I haven't read the whole thread so I hope it hasn't been suggested already but why don't you try and see what groups are local to your area. For me it has been absolutely fantastic , I've made lots of friends and we have been meeting up regularly for the last 3 years. It could be a meetup group of people that like hillwalking, study German, like cooking etc anything really or you could even start your own group!

CailinDana Sun 21-Jul-13 21:44:50

I find it quite easy to make friends. I've moved 7 times in the last 11 years (including twice to a different country) so i think i've had to be good at it. I don't amass big groups of friends - never have - but in each place i've lived i've made 1 or 2 close friends and a few other not so close ones. Nearly all the close friendships are still going.
I know this might not be helpful as i'm not sure it's something you can learn but i think i read people well and that helps. I can tell pretty fast if someone i meet is a person i want to be friends with and i can tell if they're keen to be friends too.
Ways i've made friends are:
neighbours - just say hi, have a chat, after a couple of chats ask something more personal like where they're from, take an interest and just generally be nice. I'm still close to my next door neighbour from my last house and in our current house my ndn is a great friend. That's more luck than anything. Most of my local friends come from a local toddler group.
If you have questions about making friends i'll answer them, that might be more helpful than me rabitting on.

Freudianslap Sun 21-Jul-13 21:53:04

Skinned - my little cats are awesome too, not great conversationalists though!!

Tambaboy - have tried that website but unfortunately there are only 3 groups within a 25 mile radius of where I live and they are primarily aimed at business people wanting to make links. Maybe I should start my own group though, although think I'd feel more sad if nobody wanted to join!

Looking at this thread I sound like a bit of a misery - in really not!

Heartbrokenmum73 Sun 21-Jul-13 21:53:25

I'm nodding along with a lot of what's being said here. I'm almost 40 and can honestly say I don't have any close friends now. My three closest friends have all moved (two to different countries, one to a different county) and I've been struggling and lonely too.

Other friends that I've made over the years have been the wrong 'fit', if you like and as I suffer from depression I've become a bit more choosy about who I will socialise with because I can't get on with groups where there's non-stop back-stabbing and bitchiness.

I have three children at school and am friendly with lots of Mums there, but find that I don't seem to belong to any particular group. I'm on the PTFA too but that's incredibly cliquey at our school.

I'm moving over the summer due to me and STBEx splitting and me needing to be nearer my family and start afresh. While I can't wait to start this great new chapter by the sea the thought of starting with no friends is depressing and I love my Mum to bits but don't want to be friends with just her and my SIL who is incredibly hard work.

No answers really, just sympathising.

SkinnedAlive Sun 21-Jul-13 22:14:44

MOL - you are right Freudian - my conversations with my cats can also at times be

I find I can only be friends with people I genuinely like, and don't really have friendships just for the sake of it. Finding someone you click with isn't so easy I find. Maybe I am just fussy.

I have no good suggestions sadly sad

Tambaboy Sun 21-Jul-13 23:11:03

Oh , that's is a shame about your local meetups Freudian.
Another place where I've made good friends is at a my martial arts class, I'm not saying you are ought to do the same activity (it's definetely not everyones cup of tea!) but I believe that because this hobby is so different I tend to find people on the same wavelength as mine...and we go to the pub after each session!!
So maybe you ought to find your very own special interest and meet like minded people.

Freudianslap Mon 22-Jul-13 18:49:03

Although I don't like to think people are feeling the same as me it's kind of nice to know I'm not te only one with this puzzle.

Part of the issue is that I too have become a bit wary over time due to problems with friends before. When I meet people I tend to get on ok with them but it's the meeting them part that is the biggest problem!

I suppose the obvious question would be - are any of you from anywhere in the west midlands?

Heartbrokenmum73 Mon 22-Jul-13 21:23:18

I'm in the West Midlands actually Freudian! South Birmingham to be precise.

But not for much longer sad. As I said above I'm moving down South over the school holidays. But hey, if you want to chat online anyway, here I am.

edward49582 Mon 22-Jul-13 22:18:07

Freudian, I'm in the West Mids! Not been here very long and looking for friends grin

CrabbyBigBottom Mon 22-Jul-13 23:22:07

I read so many similar threads on MN that I briefly considered setting up a sort of platonic 'dating agency' for people to make friends. grin

I just want to give another perspective, because it seems that the OP and others who wish they had more (or any) friends often end up wondering whether there's something wrong with them. It isn't you, I don't think, it's them; it's just that many people don't have the time or the energy for any more friends and the effort it makes to build and maintain a friendship.

Personally it takes a lot for me to consider someone a friend, and there sre very few people that I want to see on a very regular basis. I don't really like socialising in groups, especially groups of women (too many undercurrents, unspoken rules etc), I prefer one-to-one or couples. I met one very nice lady a while ago who I'd chatted to lots of times and she wanted to come out on a walk with me (both interested in photography and funghi). We did that and it was fine, but she was hoping to come out every week with friend and me who walk the dogs together once a week. She was also dropping hints that she'd like to go out for lunch or a drink in the evening, and saying that she's fed up that none of her friends want to go out much. I made sympathetic noises but the fact is I very rarely ever go out for lunch (can't afford it, can't take dog and kid) or in the evening (bit of a homebody in evening, ditto money) so I sort of avoided the issue. I let the walks lapse too because I really value that time with my friend snd look forward to it, and having a third person along just changes that dynamic. I'm saying this not to illustrate how horrible I am (I'm not, honest! grin), but to make the point that it's nothing to do with this lady - she's very nice - that I didn't continue and cultivate that possible friendship, it's because what she wanted wasn't a good 'fit' with what I was able to give, if that makes any sense.

So I'm just trying to say that someone not being open to overtures of friendship is probably that way for entirely their own reasons - nothing to do with you at all. If you start doubting yourself and feeling self-conscious and desperate, then you might appear a bit over-eager and sort of scare someone off, if that makes sense. I'm really not trying to hurt or offend anyone and I know that it's easier said than done to appear dead casual when you don't feel it. But if you try and drum into your head 'it's not me, it's them!' and just keep being open to people and interested in them, I'm sure you'll click with people as you go along. smile

Dahlen Mon 22-Jul-13 23:35:01

Hope this doesn't sound patronising if I'm covering something you've thought about already, but do you wait to be invited or do you ask others if they'd like to join you? A lot of people don't invite because they don't think the other person is interested. It becomes a case of both people seeming ever so nice and open but never moving beyond that because they're each assuming that if the other was that interested they'd have extended an invitation.

Notsoyummymummy1 Tue 23-Jul-13 00:17:29

All I can offer is sympathy I am afraid! I went to an antenatal group with my partner and they all seemed to chat to each other and we were ignored - it felt horrible. The girls all meet up and never invite me. My village mums group is very cliquey - they don't talk to me much and seem to invite each other round but never me. I'm shy but smiley and friendly but I'm convinced there must be something wrong with me. I never felt like this in the days when I worked - there seemed an easy comradery there and I felt accepted but obviously I've lost that now and my closest friends have all moved away and I've not been able to replace them. Loneliness is hard especially when you feel it must somehow be your fault.

Fraxinus Tue 23-Jul-13 00:31:39

make me reflect on previous friendship choices I've made

Can you share your reflections on here? Have you thought of any qualities you like or don't like in a friend?

What type of activity or interests would you like to have in common with friends?

These might give you clues as to where to look for them.

The crucial thing, OP, is shared interests. Can you find a group to attend? It could be absolutely anything. I met some amazing people doing a course on learning to teach English as a second language, an Ancient Greek course and a wine-tasting course.

Also, I agree with the poster who said just be brazen and start inviting people over for a cuppa. Ask questions, chat a lot, give out your number to people and suggest outings. I had to steel myself to do this as have emigrated a couple of times in my life and had to begin afresh, far from my oldest friends. It's been successful surprisingly often. After you've made some friendly acquaintances, if you can organise a little soiree and stretch to a few bottles of wine and some nibbles, you're laughing.

Another idea- choose a country or a language you are interested in, and find a forum for learners of that language. It doesn't matter if you don't actually speak any (yet!). There will always be people keen to practise their English, exchange e-mails / letters and so on... before you know it, you've shared lots of stuff about your lives, dreams, interests and you are friends, making phone calls, maybe planning a meeting! And people who grew up in a different culture and perhaps generation are ENDLESSLY interesting, with their different experiences, opinions and general outlook.

Don't worry about antenatal groups. I met one really nice woman through one, but we lost touch after a natural disaster forced relocation, sadly. In general, though, the people there didn't really have anything in common except that we were all dreading giving birth.

Freudianslap Tue 23-Jul-13 18:13:50

crabby I also considered starting a plutonic friend website but couldnt work out how to stop it becoming a dating site!

As for other comments - I d tend to go if invited to things but the invites are few and far between because I only really spend time with work colleagues at the moment and our jobs don't leave much time for socialising. I have tried various courses and classes - I'm interested in art and creative things but the people there have always tended to be a good 20yrs older than me (not necessarily a problem but would like to meet people of my own age too) and have only really been interested in the class.
I have loads of other interests but sadly I live in a bit of a backwater town with not much going on in the way of interest groups and activities.

I have also met a few people via another online forum but this has never really developed into anything.

fraxinus - on reflection, I have tended to be mainly friends with males even since early childhood, this is fine but I have noticed that as I have got older male friends meet partners and then friendships get complicated (maybe I've just been unlucky in having friends with very possessive OH's). I suppose this means that because I have spent more time with males I have neglected friendships with females up until quite recently - its sad because it means I don't have those girlfriends from school / uni that lots of others seem to have.

Treagues Tue 23-Jul-13 18:26:29

Oh OP I do feel for you. I do get involved in groups and hobbies and I still find it hard to find what I would call friends. Acquaintances are easy.
It was easier when I was younger, somehow! Then I moved.

I am feeling very down today for lots of reasons and I haven't a single person around me, dh included, who I feel I can talk to, have a really good moan, get it off my chest, get told nicely to buck up my ideas, and maybe join in with the moan then have a couple of glasses of wine and a laugh. My best friend lives a continent away.

I have to constantly rein it in and remind myself that I am interesting and witty and worth a hug only in my own head grin clearly as even when I'm feeling chirpy and enthused and all's right with the world, it's hard to connect with people.

Recently I wondered if all women over 40 feel this as they get older: is this just me being middle-aged and therefore invisible, even to people who are also middle-aged?

EBearhug Tue 23-Jul-13 20:11:55

I have tended to be mainly friends with males even since early childhood, this is fine but I have noticed that as I have got older male friends meet partners

Oh yes! Actually, I don't think it's so much that they have possessive partners, just that they do more coupley stuff, and now most of them are doing parenty stuff (plus no longer local to me.) I'm pretty sure none of their wives would need to worry - last time I pulled up a colleague on some comment he made about "All women..." he said, "Oh, you don't count, you're one of us." Great, so I'm not even seen as a woman any more...

I find I just witter away on messageboards in the absence of anyone else to talk to. smile

MumblingMummy Tue 23-Jul-13 21:37:11

Freudian Im almost in the West Midlands (border of N Staffs/S Chesh) if youre looking for an 'old' (ancient) mate.
Treagues I feel for you being an old gimmer middle aged myself. DP works night shifts and kids are now teens and have their own lives. I feel invisible too sometimes wine helps
Sorry youre feeling down.

Freudianslap Tue 23-Jul-13 21:37:59

treageus I know how you feel, have been that way myself sometimes with regards to the feeling down bit. Maybe we are just not meeting up with the right people? We both sound fairly normal after all!!

And Ebearhug - feel free to whitter away to me! I have also been told i am like one of the lads, it's a very odd sort of compliment maybe? And I'm certainly no threat to anyone's partner as I am very happily married, it's sad though when good friendships have to change over something so silly...

Freudianslap Tue 23-Jul-13 21:38:40

Maybe we need to form our own little group!

EBearhug Wed 24-Jul-13 00:15:04

I have also been told i am like one of the lads, it's a very odd sort of compliment maybe?

Well, it is in that they see I fit in, I guess.

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